OK’d BI modernization bill a significant gov’t gain

June 3, 2023 Jun I. Legaspi 192 views

THE recent passing of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) Modernization law marks a significant achievement for the Marcos administration.

The bill, which aims to modernize and enhance the capabilities of the Bureau of Immigration (BI), successfully cleared the House of Representatives last May 29, in time for the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

House Speaker Martin Romualdez stated that the new law, which has been tagged as a “priority bill,” will improve the travel experience and, at the same time, tighten border security.

The bill was sponsored by Committee on Justice Chairperson Representative Juliet Marie Ferrer and co-sponsored by Representatives Rufus Rodriguez, Elizaldy Co, Jurdin Jesus Romualdo, Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., Miguel Luis Villafuerte, Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata, Marcelino Libanan, Marie Bernadette Escudero, Gus Tambunting, Pablo John Garcia and Noel Rivera. Both Representatives Rodriguez and Libanan served as commissioners of the BI.

“The passage of the new law is another step forward towards the President’s vision of Bagong Pilipinas,” said Tansingco.

The proposed modernization measures will provide the BI with advanced tools, technologies, and streamlined processes. This will enable the BI to operate more efficiently and effectively in fulfilling its vital role in national security.

By upgrading its infrastructure and adopting state-of-the-art systems, the BI will be better equipped to detect and prevent illegal activities, including human trafficking, illegal cross-border activities, and other border-related threats.

Tansingco highlighted the role of the BI in detecting illegal activities at the borders.

“The role our officers play in the detection of illegal aliens cannot be discounted,” said Tansingco. “Apart from inspection of arriving and departing passengers, we also play a pivotal role in inter-agency action at the borders,” he added.

He cited two recent incidents at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 and Clark International Airport (CIA) wherein officers of the BI helped identify suspects carrying illegal drugs.

On May 22, the BI, as part of the National Airport Interdiction and Drug Interdiction Task Group (NAIADITG), was able to intercept an El Salvadorian national, who was arrested by authorities for carrying 3.115 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of P16,536,000.

After arriving onboard a Qatar Airlines flight from Brazil at the NAIA Terminal 3, he was intercepted by members of the BI’s Anti-Terrorism Group (ATG).

Subsequent inspection of the NAIADITG revealed illicit drugs concealed inside a pillowcase.

Similarly, on May 23, in CIA, a Suriname national was identified by ATG members and was apprehended by the NAIADITG upon his arrival on board an Emirates Airlines flight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The subsequent search of the passenger’s luggage led to the discovery of 3.468 kilograms of cocaine, amounting to P18,380,400 in street value.

The BI, as an integral part of the “interagency task group,” played a vital role in ensuring the success of the operation.

“Incidents such as these highlight the role of the BI in partnership with other border agencies in national security,” said Tansingco.

“The passing of the new law could not have come at a better time. This milestone legislation reflects the commitment of the Marcos administration to fortify our national security and combat illegal activities,” he added.

The Bureau of Immigration Modernization Law is now set to undergo scrutiny and approval in the Senate. Once enacted, the new law will replace the BI’s 82-year-old Philippine immigration act.